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Longford's Maura Higgins is in tonight's final. Instagram
fanny flutters

Irish eyes could be smiling after tonight's Love Island, so here's your guide to the final

Maura Higgins and Greg O’Shea both have a chance of winning.

WHETHER YOU’VE BEEN watching or not, you’ve probably heard a lot about Love Island this year.

The final of the latest series of the ITV show airs tonight and there’s significant Irish interest.

So in the spirit of putting on the green string bikini, we’ve put together a grafter’s guide to Love Island 2019 in case you want to tune in.

What is it?

Well, it is what it is.

It’s a reality show where a lineup of tanned, groomed and athletic men and women are all put together in a villa in Mallorca with the stated intention of trying to find love.

In actuality, it’s a vehicle for those involved to astronomically increase their social media followings. Or maybe just lie around in the sunshine for two months while occasionally having to dress up like a dog.

The show is unapologetically trashy, knowingly outrageous and often very entertaining.

The basic premise is that the contestants decide to couple with a member of the opposite sex, whether for romantic or convenience reasons, and are then tied to them for various tasks.

Whether that be wacky challenges or choosing who else deserves to stay in the show.

They also usually sleep in the same bed as the person they’re coupled with, but if anything happens there cameras only hint rather than show it.

Some contestants may have entered from the start of the series but many are brought in at various points over the course of the eight weeks. Periodically during the show the contestants can change who they’re coupled with. 

There’s both overt and covert manipulation by the producers of the show but most of the decisions about who stays are made by public voting. Tonight’s winners will also be decided by public voting.

The winning couple receives £50,000 but in reality the potential money contestants can earn through promoting products eclipses that pretty significantly.

Research from UK digital media marketers has estimated that online influencers with one million followers could earn more than €3,000 from advertisers for a single Instagram post.

Five of the six Love Island finalists this year have already built their Instagram following to more than one million people.

One of the favourites to win tonight’s show Molly-Mae Hague has 2.3 million Instagram followers and could expect to earn a multiple of that.

Why has it taken off this year?

The show is in its fifth season and has been popular for a number of years but has grown this year to a peak UK audience of six million.

In Ireland, Love Island has seen audiences of close to 300,000 viewers, comparable to RTÉ’s Nine O’Clock News, increasing to over 520,000 including on demand services and through the Virgin Media player.

Much of the reason for the spike in Irish interest this year is that is has featured three Irish contestants. Two of whom feature in tonight’s final.

To be fair to Greg O’Shea (who joined six weeks in and is in the final) and Yewande Biala (who was there from the start but lasted just three weeks), the real reason Ireland has been so prominent in this series in the presence of Maura Higgins.

The Longford-native also features in tonight’s final but her voice has been heard way beyond the confines of the show, literally.

Comedian Amy Schumer called Maura “my homie” and the model now has more than 1.3 million Instagram followers after her seven weeks in the show.

If you want to get a sense of where the support for Maura comes from, here she is dealing with Tom (who she was coupled with) after finding out he was talking about her behind her back.

Love Island / YouTube

Hasn’t there been some controversies around Love Island?

By its nature, the show pits the contestants against one another and encourages members of the public to cast judgement on the characters.

It makes the contestants ripe for criticism online and around watercoolers each morning.

It has led to accusations that the contestants who leave the show are not prepared for the fame or notoriety they may have when it ends.

Two former stars of the show died by suicide in recent years.

In response to concerns about the well-being of contestants, ITV updated its duty of care procedures ahead of this year’s show, offering the contestants a minimum of eight therapy sessions when they return home and regular access to psychiatrists during the time in the villa.

Amy Hart, one of the contestants in this year’s series, left the show about halfway during its run after a breakdown of her relationship in the house.

Since leaving, she has said that speaking to one of the available psychiatrists helped her take the decision to leave.

Where can I watch the final tonight?

If you haven’t been following this year’s series it’s unlikely you’re going to get much from tuning into tonight, but if you do fancy dipping your toe in the pool it’s on Virgin Media Two at 9pm.

(By the way, Irish viewers aren’t able to vote so our two hopes won’t be benefitting from devoted fans on this side of the pond.)

Alternatively, if you fancy going all out for tonight’s final there are apparently a good few viewing parties happening across the country.

The IMC Cinema in Carlow is screening the final episode while Dublin pub McGowans is holding a ticketed event that will show it across “two mega screens and 16 large screens”.

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